What is Non-Metal?

Non-metals are the elements which form negative ions by accepting or gaining electrons. Non-metals usually have 4, 5, 6 or 7 electrons in their outermost shell.

Non-metals are those which lack all the metallic attributes. They are good insulators of heat and electricity. They are mostly gases and sometimes liquid. Some they are even solid at room temperatures like Carbon, sulfur and phosphorus.

Physical Properties of Non-Metals

  • Ductility is the property of the material to be stretched into wires but non-metals are not ductile except for carbon, as carbon fibres find uses in a wide variety of industries including sports and music equipment.

  • Another property characteristic to metals is absent in non-metals called malleability. They can’t be drawn into sheets are they are brisk and break on applying pressure.

  • They are not lustrous as they do not have any shiny appearance.

  • They are not sonorous and do not produce a deep ringing sound when they are hit with another material. They are also bad conductors of heat and electricity except for graphite.

Chemical Properties of Non-Metals

1. Reaction with Water

Non-metal does not react with water but it is usually very reactive in air, which is why some of them are stored in water. For example, one of the highly reactive non-metals is phosphorus and it catches fire when exposed to air that is why it is stored in water to prevent its contact with atmospheric oxygen.

2. Reaction with Acids

None of the non-metals is known to react with acids.

3. Reaction with Bases

The reaction between non-metals and bases is a very complex one. The reaction of chlorine with bases like sodium hydroxide gives products like sodium hypochlorite, sodium chloride as well as water.

4. Reaction with Oxygen

Oxides of non-metals are formed when it reacts with oxygen. The oxides of non-metals are acidic or neutral in nature.

When sulfur reacts with oxygen, we get sulfur dioxide.

S     +      O2      →       SO2

When sulfur dioxide reacts with water it forms sulphurous acid.

SO2    +      H2O      →     H2SO3

Uses of Non-Metals

  1. For the preparation of ammonia, nitric acid and fertilizers, nitrogen is used.
  2. For the purification of water, chlorine is used,
  3. Hydrogen is very useful as rocket fuel.
  4. Carbon can be used to make pencils when it is in the graphite form.
  5. Sulphuric acid is prepared using sulphur.


1. What are examples of non metals?
Ans: Hydrogen, hydrogen, chlorine, fluorine, carbon, nitrogen, arsenic, phosphorus, selenium are examples of non-metal.

2. What defines a nonmetal?
Ans: A chemical element (such as boron, carbon or nitrogen) that lacks metal properties and is capable of forming anions, acid oxides, acids, and stable hydrogen compounds.

3. What is nonmetal and metal?
Ans: substance whether solids, liquids, or gases can be metals. With the exception of graphite, non-metals are weak heat and electricity conductors. We have no metallic luster. Non-metals are not acoustic, they don’t make a ringing sound. Several examples of non-metals are carbon, oxygen, sulfur, phosphorus, etc.

4. Is wood a non metal?
Ans: Wood is a non-metal definitely. It is a mixture of complex molecules. Wood is metal-free. Metals are maleable, ductile, sonorous, great heat and electricity conductors. But solid wood has none of these properties and is therefore not a metal.

5. What are non metal materials?
Ans: Non-metals are natural materials that do not produce heat or electricity and that are structurally brittle (can not be easily rolling, molding, extruding or pressing). Chemically, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, arsenic, and selenium are the non-metallic elements in the periodic table.